I turned on the vacuum today.

After the guys left from pulling up my weeds, it seemed a good time to try it as there was so much dirt tracked through the house.

It is quite the contraption, this vacuum – it has all these little widget things you can stick on the end of a hose to use to get to places you wouldn't be able to lift the contraption up to clean, or to get in between places and it has all different settings for what kind of carpet you have and a handle and a big compartment where all the vacuumed debris can go into and whirl about as I'd they we're caught in a giant dust storm contained within the cylinder. I can just imagine spinning about inside, terrified and trying to get out. The entire contraption terrifies me.

But so much of cleaning seems to require the use of a vacuum to do well, so I decided to gird myself and give it a try.

The Cat and I were both very interested at first in plugging in the long black cord and how it all got set up. Her ears were forward and she batted at the cord a few times, like it might be a fun toy.

Then I turned the thing on, and what a noise! The Cat and I both fled the room so fast I thought I might still have wings in my back propelling me. We end up in the living room cowering behind the sofa and looking out at my bedroom where the vacuum was still whining and whirring away, roaring like an angry fuffel dragon who had a bad toothache.

After a few minutes of hiding with The Cat, I decided that I really ought to try to be the more rational of us and I went back into the room where the demon howled and whirred. It didn't attack, so I went to it and moved it across the carpet a little to see what would happen. Aside from the noise changing pitch a bit and leaving behind a little strip of cleaned carpet, nothing really. Well, nothing too frightening. I turned off the vacuum and looked inside the little clear canister, and sure enough there was a little layer of dust inside and a small ball of cat hair.

Very interesting indeed.

I referred back to the book by that probably not-human Martha Sewart woman, and found an entire section on how to vacuum, which is quite a lot of information for me to take in at this time, as I have never used a vacuum before.

So I took it slow and vacuumed my room first, which is carpeted. Then I got kind of excited with how much dirt I collected (it is strangely satisfying to see dirt leave your house by the power of your own efforts – I may be learning to enjoy cleaning some!) and I went on to try the hose part and the little “attachments” that fit onto each of them and to see what it is they do. There are many options it seems, and I had some fun though I did have to go into the compartment a couple of times and fish out things I did not intend on vacuuming up, like those rubber bands made for holding hair back (The Cat likes to play with these and I find them hidden all over the place in my room), so it is important to move anything you do not want vacuumed up out of the way (which surprisingly includes socks if your vacuum is powerful enough) before you get started.

To vacuum carpet:

You will need:

  • A dirty carpet in need of vacuuming – if you are in need of extra dirt, hire a cat to come shed on the rug for you.
  • A vacuum
  • A garbage can to empty the dirt into – preferably outside so the flyaway dust does not reinfect the house
  • A place for your cat to hide if you have one – The Cat does not seem to like vacuuming, and an Internet search indicates that she is not alone
  • Headphones and music – I added this one, because the noise is very annoying. I assume you could do without if you do not have headphones or music or if you do not mind the sound of a thousand banshees gnashing their teeth while being raked across rocks.

Start by inspect the room and areas you wish to vacuum for anything that might be too large for the machine to gulp up, like tissues or papers, and things you do not want sucked away, like socks or coins. Then, start in the far corner of the room, make sure your vacuum is set to the carpet height you have, then set your headphones firmly in your ears and turn on the music. Then, turn on the vacuum.

Run the vacuum back and forth, change directions to get at the carpet bits from a better angle, and keep working back into the room as the carpet becomes cleaner, walking toward the door.

If you have not vacuumed in some time, as I have not (ever), then you will want to check the canister for becoming full often. Even when it looks even a little bit full – I read that the fuller it is the more suction you may be losing. I do not know if this is true or not, but it doesn't hurt to empty things lots. Plus, it gives you an excuse to turn off the racket and give your ears a break.

The dirtiest parts of the room will need the most vacuuming, so don't be afraid of going over places lots of times to be sure it gets all nice and clean.

To get under things like the bed, you'll have to fold the handle of the vacuum toward the floor and push the whole thing flattened out as far as it will go underneath the bed. For smaller things like chairs, it is easier to simply move them out of the way. I put these in another room, because I did not care to tangle the vacuum cord with them and make a bigger mess.

Then, take off the hose part of the vacuum and put the little attachment on the end that tapers into a narrow line. Use this to go around the board at the bottom of the walls, around the window sills and anything else you might be able to imagine using it on, as it is a handy little thing.

To vacuum hard floors follow the same basic procedure, but make sure to put the floor setting on “bare floor” or there is an odd noise and it won't work well. Also, bare floors take fewer passes with the vacuum, but I fail to see how this is better than sweeping because it is so loud and annoying. The attachments work well for crevices and things like that, however.

In my living room, I have an area rug, which is like a carpet but is not secured to the floor but makes a little carpet island in the middle of the room. This, I took outside first and shook off, which was not pleasant nor was it easy, so I brought it back inside. First, vacuum the underside. The area rug leaves lots of dust underneath it, so it only stands to reason to vacuum beneath where it was, the underside of the carpet, and also the top side. It is a lot of work and makes me wonder why I have bothered with an are rug at all, other than it looks nice and keeps my feet from getting cold on the vinyl flooring.

There are other things to vacuum as well, at least according to my research. Basically anything that is coved in fabric or that people sit on or is a surface that can be cleaned the vacuum can be used on – even walls, though I think I will stick to more quiet methods. Vacuuming walls, unless they are covered in fabric or something, seems too extreme. I can barely stand the thought of vacuuming a couple of floors each week!

But, one of the things I can see vacuuming is the sofa, because I drop so many crumbs and things on it. *

So, use the same materials and procedure as before.

You will need:

  • A sofa
  • A vacuum
  • A large stick to beat things with

Take off the couch cushions first and put them by the door. Then, search the couch for anything too large or things you do not want to vacuum up. Coin money seems to be sucked into couches like a greem sucks up bee stingers. You will find at least enough to buy an ice cream cone, I guarantee it. Set this aside.

Then, take the cushions outside and beat them with a long heavy stick to get as much dust out of them as possible. Ignore the nosy neighbor who stares at you while you do it. It is plenty fun as long as you don't care that you are being watched.

Bring the cushions inside. The vacuum should have an attachment for upholstery, so put that on and vacuum the cushions, then move on and vacuum the sofa. I started on the dirtiest part where the cushions sit and then worked my way up.

If you have long hair like I do it might clog the rotating bit of the upholstery attachment. If this happens, turn off the vacuum and cut the hair away with a knife or scissors, but remember to be careful because there are no healing spells if you get it wrong and get your fingers instead. If your attachment lacks the rotating bit, be grateful. It is annoying.

Return the cushions to the couch.

You can also vacuum your mattress from what I can tell. And the drapes and blinds and things like that, but I do not want to deal with any of it. I am tired from all the work I have done already today. Besides, I will be replacing my blinds soon and don't want to waste energy cleaning old ones.

I suspect I will need to vacuum again soon, as I did a poor job if it and the rest of my living room is still too messy to invite Ryan into it.

*Flora has reminded me that I ought not be such a slob and eat at the table because it is perfectly useable if I would keep it clean. I would like to inform her that not only is eating on the couch my business, but that watching television and eating is one of the most human of pastimes and I am merely doing my due diligence in researching my new life circumstances and the she is not the boss of me.

(1,705 words)



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